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Boat parade to honor second-place Dutch team

Heroes\' welcome in Amsterdam

Despite losing to Spain in the 2010 World Cup final, the Dutch national team received a heroes' welcome in Amsterdam.

- Getty Images

Thousands of fans decked out in orange cheered on the defeated Dutch team as it embarked on a  boat parade down the canals of Amsterdam.

Coach Bert van Marwijk and his team boarded a river boat decorated with orange flowers on the Ij River near the central station around to a cacophony of applause and vuvuzelas.

"I have never seen a Dutch team fight to the end like this. The players deserve this parade even if they didn't win," 40-year-old Denny de Jonge, two chains of orange flowers draped around her neck, told AFP as she waited for a glimpse of the floating procession.

The Dutch team lost 0-1 to Spain in extra time in Johannesburg, although playing a style of soccer described by former Dutch superstar Johan Cruyff, a losing finalist at the 1974 World Cup, as "ugly, vulgar, hard."

Wearing an orange T-shirt screaming: "Hup Holland Hup" (Go Holland Go), an orange mane on his head and an orange lion's tail pinned to his shorts in honour of the national symbol, 25-year-old Stefan Bons said the parade would "help process the disappointment".

"One doesn't know when the Netherlands will play in another World Cup final, thus we have to enjoy this to the maximum!" he said of the team nicknamed Oranje after the national color.

Team captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst and coach Bert van Marwijk were knighted in The Hague earlier in the day in the presence of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende who called the team an "inspiration".

After the two-hour canal parade, the players were taken to the city center Museumplein (Museum Square), where about 180,000 fans watched them lose the trophy to Spain on big screens Sunday, to be presented to thousands of waiting supporters.

About 1,800 police had been deployed around Amsterdam for Tuesday's tribute, as well as about 700 security guards and 200 traffic regulators.

Houseboats along the parade route have been fenced off and were being guarded to prevent a repeat of 1988, when several were sunk by fans celebrating the Netherlands' European Cup win.

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